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    What you need to know about Game One of UAAP volleyball Finals

    Jun 18, 2022
    Mhicaela Belen, NU Lady Bulldogs vs La Salle
    Bella Belen tries to lead the Lady Bulldogs to a Game One win against the Lady Spikers.

    NATIONAL University and La Salle go at it for all the marbles as the UAAP Season 84 women's volleyball Finals tips off this Saturday.

    UAAP volleyball Finals preview

    The Lady Bulldogs, undefeated through 14 games in the eliminations, and the Lady Spikers, the no. 2-seed which emerged as the last team standing from the stepladder semis, face off at Mall of Asia Arena with Game One scheduled at 5 p.m.

    NU has owned the number of La Salle in their first two duels, with the Jhocson spikers sweeping their first round match, 25-22, 25-15, 25-19, last May 10, and another straight sets win, 25-21, 25-20, 25-17 last May 26.

    The Taft spikers, though, have been in razor-sharp form as seen in their sweep against Ateneo last Thursday.

    Here's what you need to know about this impending clash of titans.

    RUN OF PERFECTION: NU is attempting to be the first team to go unbeaten in a season since the Alyssa Valdez-led Ateneo completed an immaculate 16-0 run back in UAAP Season 77 in 2015. And with the way the girls of coach Karl Dimaculangan has played, there's a high chance of making that dream a reality with MVP frontrunner Bella Belen leading the charge for the Lady Bulldogs as the Jhocson side aims to win their first women's volleyball crown since 1957.

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    TAFT BLOCKADE: If there's one facet of the game that La Salle has an edge against the well-rounded NU, it's definitely the Lady Spikers' net defense with Thea Gagate and Fifi Sharma commanding their blocking as they top the league in kill blocks with 2.26 per set. Ateneo learned that the hard way, with La Salle rejecting nine attacks in their last face off -- one that NU is sure to be wary about before the best-of-three series begins.

    PROTECT THE FLOOR: NU and La Salle are at the top of the league not just because of the firepower they possess but also with how disciplined their floor defense is, with the teams being the top two among the best receiving teams in the league and in the top three among the best diggers. This puts the spotlight on the Lady Bulldogs' Jennifer Nierva, who led the league in receptions with her sky-high 55.96-percent efficiency rate and no. 2 in digging with 4.40 average per set, and her Lady Spikers counterpart Justine Jazareno, who's no. 1 in digging with 4.78 excellent digs and no. 4 in reception with her 44.13-percent efficiency.

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      REUNION TIME: Belen, Alyssa Solomon, Lams Lamina, and Sheena Toring have been gamechangers for NU this season as the former members of the decorated girls' volleyball team have sustained their excellence in the seniors division. But there's another member of that NU-Nazareth School squad who is now on the opposing side with Gagate now playing for La Salle. Expect fireworks when these former friends turn to foes when the lights are at their brightest.

      PROLONGED EXCELLENCE: There's no program in women's volleyball today that can rival that of coach Ramil de Jesus in Taft as La Salle earned its 11th Finals appearance in 12 years, winning seven titles. Missing the Finals in UAAP Season 82 certainly left a bad taste on the Lady Spikers' mouth and you bet, the young crew are motivated to continue the winning tradition that their ates have made in the past decade and change.

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      Bella Belen tries to lead the Lady Bulldogs to a Game One win against the Lady Spikers.
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